NCAA President Mark Emmert stepping down no later than 2023

Robert Deutsch-USA TODAY Sports
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INDIANAPOLIS – NCAA President Mark Emmert is stepping down after 12 tumultuous years leading an association that has become increasingly marginalized while college sports has undergone massive changes and been besieged by political and legal attacks.

NCAA Board of Governors Chairman John DeGioia announced the move Tuesday and said it was by mutual agreement. The 69-year-old Emmert will continue to serve in his role until a new president is in place or until June 30, 2023.

The move is not entirely a surprise. The NCAA remains the biggest governing body in college athletics, but it is has been under sharp criticism for years as too heavy handed and even out of date with Emmert serving as the prime target.

Emmert has guided the NCAA through the most transformative period in the history of the more than 100-year-old organization. During the past decade, athletes have gained more power, benefits and ability to earn money than ever before. Amateurism has been redefined.

But Emmert has been viewed by some as not a catalyst for change but as an obstacle standing in the way – or at the least reactive instead of proactive.

“Throughout my tenure I’ve emphasized the need to focus on the experience and priorities of student-athletes,” Emmert said in a release from the NCAA. “I am extremely proud of the work of the association over the last 12 years and especially pleased with the hard work and dedication of the national office staff here in Indianapolis.”

The announcement comes one year after the board approved a contract extension for Emmert that ran through the 2025, a move that left many in college sports bewildered. Emmert’s salary was nearly $3 million in 2021.

The NCAA has suffered a series of damaging court losses in the past decade that peaked with last year’s 9-0 Supreme Court ruling against the association in an antitrust case. The decision undercut the NCAA’s ability to govern college sports and prompted a total overhaul how it operates.

Years after losing an antitrust case over the NCAA’s use of athletes’ names, images and likenesses, the association finally changed its rules last June to allow the athletes to profit as paid sponsors and endorsers. The move came only after state lawmakers passed laws to neuter the NCAA’s power. With Congress unwilling to provide federal protection, the NCAA has been unable to regulate NIL activity with uniform rules – leading to fresh criticism.

Emmert has been called before lawmakers in Washington numerous times over the past two years. Attacking Emmert and the NCAA has become one of the few things that has united Democrats and Republicans during these divisive political times.

Emmert was appointed to the job in April 2010. He had led the University of Washington and LSU prior to taking over in Indianapolis. He replaced Myles Brand, who held the position for seven years before dying of cancer in 2009.

The job Emmert stepped into became increasingly more difficult as big-time college sports such as major college football and basketball grew into billion-dollar businesses.

NCAA revenue has reached more than $1 billion per year under Emmert, primarily through the TV deals for the men’s college basketball tournament, and most of the money is redistributed to more than 1,100 member schools with nearly 500,000 athletes.

Still, the disparity between what the wealthiest schools bring in compared to what the vast majority of schools spend on athletics has made it difficult for them all to coexist under one umbrella organization.

NCAA member schools adopted a new constitution in January and are in the process of “transforming the structure and mission to meet future needs.”

“With the significant transitions underway within college sports, the timing of this decision provides the association with consistent leadership during the coming months plus the opportunity to consider what will be the future role of the president,” DeGioia said. “It also allows for the selection and recruitment of the next president without disruption.”

In a lengthy interview with AP in August, just months after being hammered by criticism for the NCAA’s inability to provide equitable facilities and amenities for the men’s and women’s basketball players participating in the Division I tournaments, Emmert said he was still passionate about the mission of a leading college sports during volatile times.

“And I’m not surprised that people say, `You know, why isn’t this getting fixed? What’s Emmert doing?”‘ he told AP. “And people also, they want to look to somebody and say, `Well, fix this, damn it!’ And I get that. I understand. And I say it in the mirror sometimes. But the truth is, it’s a very complex system. I think we do need to find ways to fix that and streamline it.”

Florida shakes up secondary after dismal game at Tennessee

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GAINESVILLE, Fla. — Florida coach Billy Napier is shaking up his secondary after the Gators allowed 349 yards passing – including 247 of those on eight plays – in a loss at Tennessee.

Safety Trey Dean, a fifth-year senior who has started 32 games and played in 54, is out with what Florida is calling a “lower leg injury.” But no one would be surprised if Napier was quietly benching Dean after he made two mental errors against the Volunteers that resulted in 70- and 45-yard gains and set up touchdowns.

Freshman Kamari Wilson will replace Dean and make his first college start Sunday against Eastern Washington.

Cornerback Jaydon Hill will join Wilson in the starting lineup. Hill, a third-year sophomore, will make his first start since 2020. He missed the 2021 season with a torn knee ligament. He impressed Napier and his new staff in the spring but sat out preseason camp with another knee injury.

Hill will replace sophomore Avery Helm, who also struggled against the Vols.

“You talk about what he’s been through from an injury perspective,” Napier said following practice Wednesday. “Jaydon was one of the better players that we had on our team in spring practice. I was very impressed . It’s no surprise to me. He showed pretty quickly here that he’s very capable. I’m excited to watch him play.”

Georgia transfer Jalen Kimber, a former five-star recruit, is now listed as a third-team cornerback. Kimber played just 11 snaps in Knoxville a week after he returned an interception for a touchdown in a 31-28 win against South Florida.

“I like to say we try to eliminate the bad football,” Napier said. “Talking about mental errors, misalignments, poor communication, bad fundamentals and techniques, bad decision-making within the play. … We have a laundry list of things that we need to eliminate each week.

“Last week’s game, I thought we were really close, but there’s 12 or 15 plays in the game where Florida is beating Florida. We’ve got a smart group here. I think they’re very aware of what the issues are, and I think they’re working hard to address those issues.”

Pac-12 looking stronger at top after early-season losses

James Snook-USA TODAY Sports
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When Oregon got throttled by top-ranked Georgia and Utah lost at Florida, it appeared as though the Pac-12 was headed toward another College Football Playoff miss.

One week into the season and two of the conference’s top teams had already failed big early tests.

Flash forward three weeks and it seems the Pac-12 might be in good shape after all.

The Ducks and Utes bounced back with big wins and the top of the conference looks strong, with four teams in the top 15 for the first time since 2016.

It’s still early, but the Pac-12 is putting itself in position to get a team through to the CFP for the first time since Washington in 2016-17.

A look at how the top of the Pac-12 is stacking up headed into the first weekend of October:

SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA

The No. 6 Trojans (4-0, 2-0 Pac-12) seem to have quickly returned to glory in their first season under Lincoln Riley. The former Oklahoma coach brought quarterback Caleb Williams with him to Southern California and they have thrived through the first four games.

Williams has thrown for 1,054 yards and nine touchdowns, adding 100 yards and two more scores rushing. USC’s defense has been opportunistic, leading the nation with 11 interceptions while tied for the lead with 14 takeaways.

The Trojans survived a scare against scrappy Oregon State over the weekend to start 4-0 for the first time since 2012. USC has to play at Utah on Oct. 15, but avoids Washington and Oregon this season.

UTAH

The 12th-ranked Utes opened the season with a tough road loss at The Swamp in Florida, but have won three straight lopsided games.

Outside of a costly interception late against the Gators, quarterback Cam Rising has been sharp, throwing for 954 yards and 10 TDs. Utah (3-1, 1-0) has a physical defense and is third in the FBS, allowing 132.8 yards passing per game.

The Utes also have a veteran team that won the Pac-12 championship last season. The bad news: tight end Brant Kuithe, their leading receiver, is out for the season with a knee injury.

Utah plays Oregon State this weekend and has tough games against USC and Oregon still on the schedule.

OREGON

The Ducks’ playoff chances took an immediate hit with a 49-3 loss to reigning national champion Georgia in their opener.

No. 13 Oregon (3-1, 1-0) bounced back with a decisive win over a good BYU team and outlasted previously undefeated Washington State 44-41 last week.

The Ducks were no match for the Bulldogs in any aspect – few teams are – but have averaged 51.6 points the past three games. Oregon’s biggest weakness is its pass defense. The Ducks are allowing 72.5% of passes to be completed, third worst in the country.

Oregon’s biggest tests left in the season will come in back to back games against Washington and Utah.

WASHINGTON

The Huskies have made a quick turnaround in their first season under coach Kalen DeBoer.

Quarterback Michael Penix Jr. has been superb now that he’s healthy, throwing for an FBS-best 1,388 yards and 12 TDs with one interception. No. 15 Washington (4-0, 1-0) picked up a solid home win against Michigan State and has 15 sacks this season, including eight against Stanford last week.

The Huskies play their first road game at undefeated UCLA on Saturday and have to face Oregon on Nov. 12.

UCLA

After winning at Colorado for the first time since 2014 last Saturday, the Bruins (4-0, 1-0 Pac-12) have their longest winning streak since winning the first eight games in 2005.

UCLA had a hard time getting past South Alabama and opened its Pac-12 schedule with a win against the struggling Buffaloes.

The Bruins will find out how good they are over the next three weeks, a brutal stretch that includes home games against Washington and Utah before heading to Eugene to play the Ducks on Oct. 22.